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Reading the Industry: Fantasy Football for Smart People

When Hollywood looks for its next blockbuster fantasy series to make into an ultra-high budget series, I’m hoping Jonathan Bales’ Fantasy Football for Smart People makes the cuts. His charts are going to look so cool. I saw ten different “Smart People” offerings on his Amazon page. Today’s review will be on his latest book, and we’ll give it a separate line due to its length:

Fantasy Football for Smart People: Daily Fantasy Pros Reveal Their Money-Making Secrets


Check out a sample chapter.

I do an interview series in which the majority of the “talking” is by the experts themselves. Bales uses this theory in the book, handing over each chapter to a daily “grinder” who has won more money in fantasy football than I’ve ever seen. Let’s look at some of the chapters.

Chapter 1: Research with Headchopper

Wait a sec, who said anything about research? You mean I have to work to make money in daily fantasy? Nuts. What Mr. Chopper says is to use your tools, including the fantastic Rotogrinders site, Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders for stats, and NFL Game Rewind for film. What he likes to do is figure out his player values before going to the daily fantasy sites to view salaries.

Three great tidbits from Headchopper: He likes looking at the opposing secondary for QB value, yards per carry for RBs (sign of good OL), and red zone targets for wide receivers (TDs are important).

At the end of the each chapter, you get a little “bonus coverage” from “CSURams88″ aka Peter Jennings and of course, Mr. Bales and his charts.

Chapter 3: The Vegas Lines with Mirage88

It appears as if ’88 was a very good year for creating daily fantasy experts. If a daily expert wanted to create his/her own research from which to devise lineups, that’s possible. That’s also not optimal. Vegas sets lines based on a lot more smart people using a lot more data than we can fathom. Because of that, using Vegas lines to determine the best opportunities for scoring fantasy points is what you’re looking for. Look at the over/unders (the prediction about how many points will be scored in an NFL game), and you’ll see where your opportunities lie.

If you break down each NFL team, you can see what percentage of total QB targets each WR gets. After looking at the over/under, you can get a decent projection of what that receiver could score.

Determining when to go against the “chalk”, or the Vegas line, is where you potentially get in the most trouble but also can profit. Knowing when to be a contrarian is one of the most important decisions a fantasy player can make.

Chapter 5: Winning Cash Games with PrimeTime42

You may think that daily fantasy “winners” focus on tournaments because of the big money, but that’s a fallacy. A lot of daily fantasy winners focus on the “cash” games, which for the most part means the head-to-heads or 50/50s. Tournaments do have higher prizes, but the odds of winning are much lower.

PT42 recommends DraftKings’ “beginner-only” cash games to allow the newbies to get some experience. He also suggests that you get into some cheap 50/50s with experts to see what they do with their lineups. That’s one step to becoming an expert, seeing what the experts do.

Chapter 8: Building a Bankroll with KillaB2482

Have you noticed yet that daily experts spend a lot more time on research than coming up with handles? This guy focuses on the NFL (my kind of guy) who moved on from an Economics degree to play poker then focus on daily fantasy. There are some nice overlaps between poker and fantasy football.

You may think that it makes sense to play your entire bankroll every week, as the NFL season is short and we must make hay while the sun shines. Not so fast. If you have a bad week, and everyone has a bad week, you are now broke. The suggestion in this instance is a max of 20% a week. Only 3-4% is for tournaments versus “cash” games.

Throughout this book, a constant refrain is to play one lineup per site. You’re going to have a different “cash” lineup versus “tournament” lineup as you need a higher score to win a tournament due to the higher number of players. Another recommendation is to not put more than 60-70% of your weekly money into one player. You may have “a feeling” and the stats/salary may be in your favor, but if one player has one bad week, so do you.

I purposely didn’t summarize every chapter because it wouldn’t be nice of me to give you the entire book without enticing you to buy it on your own. There are lots of daily fantasy primers, but this one’s over and above the norm because we’re talking real advice from real winners. Naturally, where you take it is up to you.

Find the book on Amazon and do yourself a favor and follow Jonathan Bales on Twitter. You can also find Jonathan’s work at RotoAcademy and The DC Times.

For a more extended look at the book, I posted a sample chapter.

About Zach Law

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